Rod Taylor played Frank Agretti on "Falcon Crest" during parts of its
seventh, eighth and ninth seasons.
So, how did Frank fit into the tangle of prime-time soap characters?
Angela Gioberti Channing (Jane Wyman) lost her vineyard to Melissa Agretti
Cumson (Ana-Alicia) by way of an ancient deed proving that it belonged to the
Agretti family all along.
But Melissa couldn't run Falcon Crest, had a breakdown, doused the house in
gasoline and torched it. She died in the hospital, naming Frank Agretti's son,
Nick (David Beecroft), executor of her estate. Nick ran Falcon Crest for a
while, but Angela blackmailed it away from him.
Later, Richard Channing (David Selby) had Angela, his mother, committed to a
mental institution by tricking her into thinking she had seen Melissa, back from
the dead. When a judge declared Angela mentally incompetent, she quickly
arranged a marriage with Frank Agretti (Rod!) to ensure that he, and not
Richard, would be appointed conservator of her affairs. (An article at the time
noted that "Agretti was the only man strong enough for hard-headed Angela
Channing to listen to.")
In the final season, outside forces and non-Channings took the vineyard away
from Angela and her family. Angela spent much of the season in a coma following
an attempted murder.
Genele Ericson (Andrea Thompson) came to the Valley and began blackmailing and seducing Frank.
He had helped Genele cover up the murder of Renee -- Genele's sister and Frank's
former wife. (Got that?) Frank attempted to go to the police to tell of the
murder, but he wound up being charged with the murder instead.
Angela eventually awoke from her coma and regained control of Falcon Crest.
In the series finale, during a lavish reception at Falcon Crest, Angela
looked out at the vineyards, content in the happy news that, among other things,
Frank soon would be released from prison.
Rod seemed to enjoy his stint on "Falcon Crest." In an interview at the time,
he said, "It's amazed the hell out of me that I've found so much on 'Falcon
Crest' to sink my teeth into. We're doing some fine work on that show, and I'm
getting a charge out of it like you wouldn't believe."
Also at the time, there was speculation from CBS that Taylor's character
would get an expanded "Lorne Greene-style Bonanza treatment," with Agretti and
his sons setting up their own winery. Alas, that never came to be.
wide-ranging interview on the Hill Place blog in 2013, actress
Ana Alicia recalls striking up a friendship with Rod, who played her
uncle on the show:
"I still have a beautiful Native American
jade crucifix that he gave me from Arizona. He was the one
legend who was on the show who became a friend of mine. That
would be the closest relationship that I had, but I really was
just in awe of all of them."
EPISODES THAT INCLUDE ROD:
7.18 -- "Legacies" -- Feb. 19, 1988
Long-lost Uncle Frank arrives on the scene, bearing secrets. His "only
living relative," niece Melissa (Ana-Alicia), rejects him, but old friend Angela
(Jane Wyman) welcomes him with open arms. Cool scene: Frank's fainting spell.
7.19 -- "Wheels Within Wheels" -- Feb. 26, 1988
Frank's secrets emerge as he reveals his plan. The good news: He has a
treasure map that may lead to a fortune. The bad news: He's dying of pancreatic
cancer and has only six months to two years to live.
7.20 -- "Channing vs. Channing" -- March 4, 1988
Frank and Melissa go searching for buried treasure in the ghost town of
Hobart, Calif. Along the way, uncle and niece begin to bond. But after
performing heroics to rescue Melissa, Frank gets conked by a loose beam, putting
him in the hospital for several episodes. Cool scene: Snake shooting.
7.24 -- "Key to Angela" -- April 8, 1988
Frank's still in a coma, recovering from his accident as well as surgery to
cure him of his cancer. This episode just replays Frank's arrival at Falcon
7.27 -- "As Tears Go By" -- May 6, 1988
Frank recovers in fine soap opera fashion -- just in time to dash off to
help Melissa and Lance (Lorenzo Lamas), who have been buried by a cave-in after
discovering treasure: the deed to Falcon Crest goes to the Agretti family.
7.28 -- "Last Dance" -- May 13, 1988
Frank directs the rescue of Melissa and Lance. Then Melissa declares she's
taking over Falcon Crest, turfing out Angela and the gang -- even Uncle Frank.
8.1 -- "Changing Times" -- Oct. 28, 1988
The new season arrives with Melissa running Falcon Crest, but not well. We
also learn that she may not be Frank's "only living relative" after all. Frank
has a son! Angela tries to prod Frank into patching things up him. Cool scene:
On the putting green.
8.2 -- "Farewell, My Lovelies" -- Nov. 4, 1988
Angela has a forgery made of Melissa's deed, then pulls a switcheroo. Frank
tries to reason with Melissa, but she's becoming increasingly irrational.
8.3 -- "Dust to Dust" -- Nov. 11, 1988
Melissa completely wigs out, sets Falcon Crest on fire and dies. After the
funeral, Frank meets up with long-lost son Nick (David Beecroft) and
never-before-seen grandson Ben (Brandon Douglas) waiting for him. It's been 17
years since Frank and Nick have seen one another, and Nick's not happy about
Frank's vagabond ways.
8.4 -- "Jeopardy" -- Nov. 18, 1988
Frank and grandson Ben begin to bond. At the reading of Melissa's will, Nick
is named executor of her estate -- which of course still includes Falcon Crest.
Despite his Agretti family ties, Frank insists that Falcon Crest belongs to
Angela and demands that Nick turn it over to her.
8.5 -- "Tuscany Venus" -- Dec. 2, 1988
Nick is resentful as Frank expresses grief over missing Melissa. Ben is
resentful of Nick for not telling him more about his mother. Angela goes looking
for dirt on Nick so that she can blackmail him and get Falcon Crest back. Angela
locates Ben's mother, and tells Nick she'll keep the secret for a price --
8.6 -- "Liars Anonymous" -- Dec. 9, 1988
Nick signs Falcon Crest over to Angela. Frank tells him he did the right
thing (but he doesn't know about the blackmail). Frank, Nick and Ben make a
celebratory trip to San Francisco. Upon their return, Frank's old friend (and
old flame?) Libby arrives on the scene, trying to lure Frank into going to
Colombia to mine emeralds. Nick finally tells Ben about his mother.
8.7 -- "Life With Father -- Dec. 16, 1988
Frank is torn between staying with his son and grandson and going off with
Libby to find a fortune in emeralds. Nick finally gets over his anger, and on
Christmas Day, Frank departs. Cool scene: Nick saying to Frank, "She's an
attractive woman, she's sleeping with you and she's dangling an emerald mine in
front of you. Of course you're leaving!"
8.16 -- "Missing Links" -- March 17, 1989
After a several-episode absence, Frank returns because Ben has been in an
accident. He also comes bearing emeralds for Angela and just in time to perform
another cave-in rescue. This time it's Richard Channing (David Selby) and his
young son, Michael, down an old well. Cool scene: Frank's reaction at meeting
Ben's mother, Anna.
8.17 -- "Resurrection" -- March 31, 1989
Frank's on the periphery of this one, being of comfort to Ben, Nick and Anna
-- who's dying. Meanwhile, Richard is recruiting the Melissa lookalike to trick
Angela, who he has kidnapped while he swings a business deal.
8.18 -- "Enquiring Minds" -- April 7, 1989
Lance, wondering where Angela is, looks in the safe for a clue. He, along
with Frank, notice the safe contains three deeds to Falcon Crest. Lance later
8.19 -- "Grand Delusions" -- April 14, 1989
Angela is back, and Richard is making it seem as though she's crazy because
of her claims that she was abducted and saw "Melissa." Meanwhile, Frank and Nick
break into the bookstore and find the deed to Falcon Crest.
8.21 -- "The Last Laugh" -- May 12, 1989
A judge rules Angela is mentally disabled and awards conservatorship of
Falcon Crest to her son Richard. But wait! Angela's attorney produces some new
information, and the judge awards conservatorship to Angela's husband -- Frank
8.22 -- "Decline and Fall" -- May 19, 1989
Frank and Angela explain that their marriage will be annulled when Falcon
Crest is safe from Richard Channing. In the meantime, Angela and
Samantha/Melissa plot against Richard and get him indicted for illegal trading.
9.1 -- "The Price of Freedom" -- Sept. 29, 1989
Rod's not in the first episode of the ninth season much, but he is in the
credits for the first time as a regular cast member, rather than "special guest
star." Frank is seen driving Angela to the airport; she is on her way to Greece.
Frank mentions (for the first time ever) having been on the tennis circuit in
9.2 -- "Charley" -- Oct. 6, 1989
This episode is directed by Reza Badiyi, who directed "Hell River." The
weirdo Charley St. James enters the scene, as boyfriend to Emma, Angie's kooky
daughter. Frank and the gang have gathered for Maggie's funeral. Charley later
attempts to smother Angela with a pillow.
9.3 -- "Flesh and Blood" -- Oct. 13, 1989
Angela is in a coma from lack of oxygen to the brain. Charley disrupts the
electricity at the hospital to knock out Angela's life support. The electricity
is restored, but the doctor recommends pulling the plug. The decision is
9.4 -- "Payback" -- Oct. 20, 1989
Genele arrives and is in a bubble bath when Frank arrives. She kisses, then
bites, him hello. Lance is in dire straits, and he comes to Frank for help.
Genele flirts with Frank in front of Lance. Richard bails out Falcon Crest.
Frank then exercises the power of attorney that Angela had given him. Genele is
behind it all. Then the action really heats up! (See left-hand column for pics.)
9.5 -- "Soul Sacrifice" -- Nov. 3, 1989
Genele & Frank start the day heating up the sheets. Frank goes to court to sue for
power over Falcon Crest. The power will go to either Lance, Frank or Richard.
Frank has a public, drunken skirmish with Genele at a restaurant. Later, he has
a nightmare about his dead wife, Renee (who was Genele's sister). Frank
wakes up and drives to a wooded area, with a shovel. He goes into the woods,
saying "Renee, be there..." Genele shows up and says she dug Renee up a long
time ago. She tells Frank: "She's in a box and will stay there as long as
you do what I say." Genele and Frank go to the hospital. Genele talks Frank
into killing Angela so that he will get control of Falcon Crest. He goes to
Angela's room with intent to kill, but he doesn't do it.
9.6 -- "God of the Grape" -- Nov. 11, 1989
A judge rules that control of Falcon Crest goes
to Emma, which is followed by a completely
wacko wedding between Charley and Emma. Charley is "running" the winery now. He
has skirmish with Mitch Pileggi in a small role (just a nod to the actor who played hunky Assistant
Director Walter Skinner in the "X-Files.") Frank introduces a visitor
for the summer, his nephew, Chris is introduced. (Who??
Where'd he come from??)
9.9 -- "Merry Christmas, Charley" -- Dec. 8, 1989
Nephew Chris is in love with Sydney, who is a girlfriend of Ian, a
degenerate buddy of Charley's. Then Chris vanishes. Later, Ian tries to strangle
Sydney. Frank bursts through the window to rescue her. Sydney stabs Ian. Emma shoots Charley.
9.12 -- "Madness Descending" -- Jan. 12, 1990
Genele (in bed with another man) forces Frank out of his own home. He goes
to the police with the bones of his ex-wife and informs them that Genele killed
her 10 years previously. But they arrest Frank, and he isn't seen again. In the series finale
(Episode 9.22) we learn from Angela's closing voice-over that he'll soon be back
at Falcon Crest.